Saturday, February 14, 2009

Travel Photography

We recently received an email note from a friend in Sweden, and he asked about the photo gear we travel with, and what we use for our books and websites. Which got us to thinking (a dangerous precedent). Here are our preferences for travel photography equipment.

Francesca has a “big” Nikon digital SLR, with 18-55, 55-200, and 70-300 zoom lenses. Despite its significant bulk and weight, she takes it on pretty much all trips. She loves photography for its own sake, as well as being inspiration for her paintings.

Back in the slide-film days, Kenneth used to be a “semi-pro” photographer, selling numerous photos to magazines to accompany his articles. He still has several useless film camera bodies as well as too many nice lenses that he’ll never use again. Yet in this digital age, he’s become enamored of “amateur” cameras. His two digital cameras are an older Olympus Stylus waterproof model, which is used primarily for skiing, hiking, and anywhere around water. In addition, he uses a small Nikon Coolpix that will fit in a shirt pocket, and it sees a lot of use in restaurants (without flash) for food and wine photos as well as being a general travel camera.

Kenneth is also addicted to video and filmmaking, and has three video cameras: A small Canon mini-DV video camera for travel; an old Sony Hi-8 video camera with amazing low-light capabilities and for intentionally capturing a grainy, “old-video” look; and a “big-gun” Panasonic DVX100 for filmmaking. (Weirdly, we’ve never been interested in producing or posting online video.)

We carry a passel of camera chips (and video tapes), because we generally don’t travel with a computer except on driving trips. We take spare batteries for every camera, and chargers for everything.

When we return home, we make sure every image is stored in at least two places – usually our main computer and an external hard drive – before we erase any camera memory chips. Trust us, this is important. We have “accidentally” deleted whole photo files and were very glad to have had another backup.

We’ll discuss composition, lighting, and other techniques in future articles.